This image depicts a panorama of FYW's Active Learning Center (ALC). The ALC is a classroom with mobile technologies, such as handheld whiteboards and tables/chairs on casters. Technologies such as SMART boards, LCD screens, blackboards, and whiteboards hang on the walls.

Bibliography: Writing Studio Pedagogy, Active Learning, Learning Spaces

Editor's Picks

Gierdowski, D. (2015). Instructor perceptions of a flexible writing classroom. In R. G. Carpenter, R. Selfe, S. Apostel, & K. Apostel (Eds.), Sustainable learning spaces: Design, infrastructure, and technology. Computers and Composition Digital Press. Retrieved from

This chapter presents a descriptive case study of an active learning classroom that is in many ways quite similar to the one recently created for UConn’s First-Year Writing program. It addresses technology in classrooms in specific detail and also highlights flexibility as a key attribute affecting educational practices. It also considers the ways in which unfamiliar active learning spaces can be seen as an obstacle by some instructors and students. One important conclusion Gierdowski makes is that pedagogical spaces — though an important factor in shaping the activity that goes on in a classroom — don’t guarantee any particular practices or outcomes. Instead, the way teachers shape classroom activity with the space is the most consequential factor, which Gierdowski argues warrants special attention to helping instructors develop strategies for working effectively with active learning spaces and technologies.

Petersen, C. I., & Gorman, K. S. (2014). Strategies to address common challenges when teaching in an Active Learning Classroom. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2014(137), 63–70.

In this article, Petersen and Gorman offer some practical advice for working in Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs). They begin by laying out some of the things commonly described as problems by instructors teaching in ALCs for the first time, such as "no focal point" and "overwhelming technology." They then recommend specific strategies for acclimating to these changes, ways to to work with the room rather than against it. At the end of the article, the authors propose a method for using student feedback to address the variety other challenges that may arise when working in an unfamiliar space.

Walls, D. M., Schopieray, S., & DeVoss, D. N. (2009). Hacking spaces: Place as interface. Computers and Composition, 26(4), 269–287.

Walls et al. describe the challenges of teaching writing in less-than-ideal environments and present a five-part heuristic for analyzing spatial educational challenges. They begin by theorizing educational space and arguing that spaces are embedded with values and affordances based on sedimented cultural/educational histories and institutional politics. Acknowledging that spatial redesigns in contexts like universities often take many years and are the result of hard-fought institutional arguments, Walls et al. advocate for “hacking” classrooms in the short-term; in particular, they propose meta-awareness of the spaces we teach in and “working with” (and sometimes creatively against) those spaces to achieve desired outcomes. This article’s literature review usefully summarizes a couple of decades of research in instructional spaces in writing studies. The idea of “hacking” is useful as a model for bringing studio pedagogy to spaces that are not explicitly designed for it.

Expanded Bibliography

  • Adedokun, O. A., Parker, L. C., Henke, J. N., & Burgess, W. D. (2017). Student perceptions of a 21st century learning space. Journal of Learning Spaces, 6(1), 1–13.
  • Baepler, P., & Walker, J. D. (2014). Active learning classrooms and educational alliances: Changing relationships to improve learning. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2014(137), 27–40.
  • Beichner, R. J. (2014). History and evolution of active learning spaces. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2014(137), 9–16.
  • Bonwell, C. C., & Eison, J. A. (1991). Active learning: Creating excitement in the classroom. Washington, DC: School of Education and Human Development, George Washington University. Retrieved from
  • Brooks, D. C., & Solheim, C. A. (2014). Pedagogy matters, too: The impact of adapting teaching approaches to formal learning environments on student learning. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2014(137), 53–61.
  • Bunnell, A., Carpenter, R., Hensley, E., Strong, K., Williams, R., & Winter, R. (2016). Mapping the hot spots: A zoning approach to space analysis and design. Journal of Learning Spaces, 5(1), 19–25.
  • Carpenter, R. G., Selfe, R., Apostel, S., & Apostel, K. (2015). Sustainable learning spaces: Design, infrastructure, and technology. Retrieved from
  • DeVoss, D. N., Cushman, E., & Grabill, J. T. (2005). Infrastructure and composing: The when of new-media writing. CCC, 57(1), 14–44.
  • Florman, J. C. (2014). TILE at Iowa: Adoption and adaptation. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2014(137), 77–84.
  • Granito, V. J., & Santana, M. E. (2016). Psychology of learning spaces: Impact on teaching and learning. Journal of Learning Spaces, 5(1), 1–8.
  • Grego, R. C., & Thompson, N. S. (2008). Teaching/writing in thirdspaces: The studio approach. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.
  • Gresham, M., & Yancey, K. B. (2004). New studio composition: New sites for writing, new forms of composition, new cultures of learning. WPA, 28(1–2), 9–28.
  • Kim, M., & Carpenter, R. (Eds.). (2017). Writing studio pedagogy: Space, place, and rhetoric in collaborative environments. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Langley, D., & Guzey, S. S. (2014). Conducting an introductory biology course in an Active Learning Classroom: A case study of an experienced faculty member. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2014(137), 71–76.
  • Lerner, N. (2009). The idea of a writing laboratory. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.
  • Leverenz, C. S. (2012). “Growing smarter over time”: An emergence model for administrating a new media writing studio. Computers and Composition, 29(1), 51–62.
  • Miller-Cochran, S., & Gierdowski, D. (2013). Making peace with the rising costs of writing technologies: Flexible classroom design as a sustainable solution. Computers and Composition, 30(1), 50–60.
  • Morrone, A. S., Ouimet, J. A., Siering, G., & Arthur, I. T. (2014). Coffeehouse as classroom: Examination of a new style of active learning environment. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2014(137), 41–51.
  • Park, E. L., & Choi, B. K. (2014). Transformation of classroom spaces: Traditional versus active learning classroom in colleges. Higher Education, 68(5), 749–771.
  • Purdy, J., & DeVoss, D. (2017). Making space: Writing instruction, infrastructure, and multiliteracies. Retrieved from
  • Ramsey, C. M., Guo, X., & Pursel, B. K. (2017). Leveraging faculty reflective practice to understand Active Learning Spaces: Flashbacks and re-Captures. Journal of Learning Spaces, 6(3), 42–53.
  • Rands, M. L., & Gansemer-Topf, A. M. (2017). The room itself is active: How classroom design impacts student engagement. Journal of Learning Spaces, 6(1), 26–33.
  • Rule, H. J. (2018). Writing’s rooms. College Composition and Communication, 69(3), 402–432.
  • Sawers, K. M., Wicks, D., Mvududu, N., Seeley, L., & Copeland, R. (2016). What drives student engagement: Is it learning space, instructor behavior, or teaching philosophy? Journal of Learning Spaces, 5(2), 26–38.
  • Sutton, M. (2010). Messages to and from third space: Communication between the writing studio and classroom teachers. Open Words: Access and English Studies, 4(1), 32–46.
  • Sutton, M., & Chandler, S. W. (Eds.). (2018). The writing studio sampler: Stories about change. Fort Collins, Colorado: The WAC Clearinghouse.
  • Taylor, S. S. (2009). Effects of studio space on teaching and learning: Preliminary findings from two case studies. Innovative Higher Education, 33(4), 217–228.
  • Van Horne, S., Murniati, C. T., Saichaie, K., Jesse, M., Florman, J. C., & Ingram, B. F. (2014). Using qualitative research to assess teaching and learning in technology-infused TILE classrooms. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2014(137), 17–26.
  • Vercellotti, M. L. (2018). Do interactive learning spaces increase student achievement? A comparison of classroom context. Active Learning in Higher Education, 19(3), 197–210.
  • Voss, J. (2020). WPas as university learning space managers: Theorizing and guiding the creation of effective writing classrooms. WPA: Writing Program Administration, 43(2), 109–130.
  • Zimmermann, P. A., Stallings, L., Pierce, R. L., & Largent, D. (2018). Classroom interaction redefined: Multidisciplinary perspectives on moving beyond traditional classroom spaces to promote student engagement. Journal of Learning Spaces, 7(1), 45–61.